Garden Bloggers Blooms Day: Clematis 'Freckles'
The frosts of a couple of weeks ago turned all but the hardiest of my summer flowers to a memory, and now it's the turn of the winter bloomers to take a star turn in VP Gardens.
The earliest of these is Clematis 'Freckles'. The guidance says she blooms from November through to February; mine's been throwing out the odd bloom or three since July. This isn't a rare occurrence; it happens here most years and I know Alan has had the same experience this year.
I can thank NAH for this year's plentiful blooms. This is a pruning group 1 clematis, so I tend to neglect her dreadfully. NAH in Drastic Gardener mode cut her down to the ground last year when the huge tangle of stems invaded next door's garage. He left her for dead, but she's made of sterner stuff and has grown back more strongly than before. It was worth sacrificing last year's winter display ('Freckles' flowers on old wood) for what's there now.
The guidance says growth is up to 4 metres; be prepared for much longer than that if you leave this clematis to her own devices like I've done. I've found stems popping up in all kinds of unexpected places in the garden. I've also found a few self layered plants - note to me: I must keep a much closer eye on her in future.
This clematis may look quite delicate with smaller leaves and thin, wiry stems... but remember, this is a winter flowering plant so it's a tough cookie. Having said that, a sheltered position is recommended as the plant has a hardiness rating of H4, so my neighbour's west facing garage wall is ideal. It's also much stronger than you think; when NAH cut her back I realised she'd been holding my enormous fig tree upright. It's now sprawled right across the patio instead.
I've started a renovation pruning of my fig, and the plan is eventually it'll form a fan across my neighbour's garage wall. This means there won't be room there for my clematis, so in the spring I'll take some cuttings ready for her new home further along the garden boundary. I hope the fence is to her liking.
I chose this clematis because it hails from Mallorca; a place of happy times in the past. It also provides nectar for bees foraging for food on warmer winter days at a time when there's not a lot else around. I love that Raymond Evison named her 'Freckles' when he introduced the plant in 1989, because his daughter Rebecca had plenty of them when she was a little girl.
She's definitely a star plant in my garden. What's starring in yours?
Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.
* = or Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurescens 'Freckles' to give her full name